The Convergence Communication and Broadband Technology (CCBT) area has been growing rapidly and is resulting in a wide range of business opportunities. In the ICT sector a large number of multi-national companies (MNC) have setup their R&D Centers in India with huge investments. These Centers focus on state-of-art technology and product development utilizing the large pool of R&D manpower in the country. In such a competitive scenario developing a compressive Technology plan for indigenous R&D, creating talent pool, robust infrastructure is all the more important. The next five years are going to witness extensive creation of broadband infrastructure with numerous services and applications. The components of the same would evolve around the following namely Broadband Access Network, Mobile and Wireless Network, Broadband Transport Network, CPE and Terminals, Management of Services and Network, Multimedia and Content and Security. Further, considering the fact that over 70% of the population resides in rural and remote areas, it is important that technologies/products are specifically targeted at this segment of the population on priority basis. The working Group has recommended a funding pattern of 40% for basic research and capacity/capability building areas and 60% for applied research (both short and long duration) with a major role for the industry. Some of the suggested project activities include the following:
- Development projects aimed at establishment of proof of concept. Further research to commercialize the technology should be carried out by Industry.
- Study projects in selected area such as wireless spectrum, broadband on power line et al to help government frame policies.
- Development projects aimed at building prototypes followed by limited feasibility trials.
- Development of small subsystems, which could form a part of a major system or total solution.
Pre-competitive collaborative research in areas like system view, basic technology, service technology, sub-systems and comprehensive security is essential to harness the benefits of pooled strength. The R&D in the identified thrust areas will be aimed to promote the following segments.
Network Design and Its Elements
Research needs to be taken up for maximizing the use of infrastructure resources and investments including techniques for higher network performance, flexible and efficient use of spectrum, rapid evolution of services et al. Methodologies for seamless and ubiquitous wireless connectivity, creation of environment beyond 3G wireless and new approaches to broadband are the hot areas which require lot of research efforts during and beyond the five year plan period. Such services would be using underlying packet technology layers for building capabilities and scalable capacities with respect to data transmission.
Issues relating to interoperability at various levels, quality of service, cost effective future- proof migration strategies to newer networks, affordable and easy to operate integrated customer devices will need sustained attention and collaborative efforts. In the coming years, apart from large public domain networks, self-configured embedded networks containing large number of small devices for flexible engineering topology may be deployed. Enterprise networks are also expected to assume higher significance due to growth in business and multipurpose market. The devices developed for these applications can provide good market to the indigenous manufacturers.
Devices and Other Components
Some of the challenging areas of R&D in this segment are with regard to low cost handsets, low cost infrastructure for rural areas, smart devices, RFIDs, 4G wireless techniques and sensor networks. Besides audio & image coding applications, automated transactions and data mining type of applications, video over IP et al will also merit attention.
The next generation of smart devices is likely to come with the following striking features. Significant processing power to enable cognition (voice recognition, image recognition, gesture recognition), multiple network connectivity with Media Independent Handover(MIH), options for non-English speaking / illiterate users, smart power options and network-centric device options. It is most likely that the future smart phone devices will need to provide a full-fledged mobile alternative to the portable laptop.
In the optical fibre domain, techniques for dealing with specialty and passive fibres, active 'all optical networks elements' will remain key focus areas both by the industry and academic research institutes.
Applications and Content
The smart devices of future are likely to be more data-content oriented rather than being solely device or application centric. Interestingly, a user is likely to be more keen on the content she/he enjoys and less interested in the device. Thus a device which allows and facilitates seamless content either by inter-cooperation to allow Media Independent Handover or by explicitly coordinating with a content server is more likely to find user acceptance.
Without doubt a 'killer app' is worth its value in gold, having a killer application provides a serious USP. But in case of future smart devices, It is unlikely that there will be just a single 'killer' application, to propel its future instead, there is a strong possibility that a co-operative framework for applications will arise.
These future applications are most likely to benefit from the synergies and the correspondingly rich content, which arises as a consequence, either fortuitously through service discovery or by design. Technologies that promise using non-conventional energy for infrastructure, environment- friendly shared infrastructure, reducing power consumption of devices and other elements, flexible use of resources, reducing regulatory requirements would surely help a healthy and user-friendly growth of convergence technologies.